I love interspecies relationships! They show us nature’s incredible capacity of diversification and lack of discrimination. More and more often these unlikely friendships make the news and give us warm moments that lighten up our days. Such is the case of Winston the raccoon and Zizi the cat. Their story may be a bit old but great stories are always worth telling.
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Winston was rescued and brought back to a healthy life by a veterinary student named Haley Williams. It was 2012 when she spotted the dehydrated, emaciated baby raccoon on the side of the road. She knew he needed help so she picked him up trying to get him professional veterinary care but it seemed more difficult than she thought. That’s why she took him home with her and took care of him herself.
Winston bonded with Haley and accepted her as his surrogate mother. But Haley never had the intention of keeping him as a household pet. Raccoons are wild animals and she knew that. Her intentions were always to get him healthy and let him go back to the wild to make his own life. This is where Zizi comes in.
Zizi was a senior barn cat known for his lack of ability to get along with other cats in the household. But that changed when he met Winston. Soon enough they were cuddling, playing and most importantly, exploring the outside world together. Haley told Love Meow:
“I would be able to look out the window at any time of the day and see Zizi and Winston cuddled up sleeping in the flower pot together, wrestling or just exploring side by side. When I would come home from school, Winston would hop into my lap and Zizi would follow”
Zizi was some sort of guide for Winston. Little by little the raccoon began exploring farther and farther and disappearing for longer periods of time. But Zizi passed away a couple of years after befriending Winston and Winston never forgot him.
Winston is now five years old and he no longer lives with Haley, although he does come back from time to time for food and safety. He knows he has a permanent home there.
“Sometimes he shows up late at night and we’ll just cuddle and nap on the porch together until he decides he’s had enough and will leave again (…) He will sometimes cuddle up close and groom my newest cat. Perhaps he remembers Zizi in those instances.”